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Pakistan Blocks Hundreds Of Websites, Dubs Them Blasphemous

by Gopalan on May 23, 2010 at 2:12 PM
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 Pakistan Blocks Hundreds Of Websites, Dubs Them Blasphemous

Pakitan has blocked hundreds of web pages, terming them blsphemous. The move comes in the backdrop of the ban on Facebook and YouTube. As many as 800 web pages and URLs have thus been placed off limits.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) banned access to Facebook, YouTube and other links, which included restricted access to Wikipedia, in view of what it called "growing sacrilegious content" this week.


"At least 800 individual web pages and URLs have been blocked since the government's orders to shut Facebook and YouTube," Wahaj us Siraj, a spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan said.

It was all a fallout of the "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day" competition originating from the US.

A Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris posted a drawing last month depicting objects like a domino, a spool of thread, and a handbag, saying they were the "real likeness of Mohammed." The cartoon also included a fake group called Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor calling for an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."

Norris said she drew her cartoon as a show of support for the creators of Comedy Central's "South Park," which earlier this year featured an episode depicting the prophet Muhammad in a bear suit. The show was subsequently taken off air. Norris said she was defending the right to freedom of expression with her idea.

It caught fire on the Internet, attracting 105,000 fans - and five pages of crude manipulated pictures and caricatures. But conservative Muslim ire had also been aroused. Pages denouncing the competition and calling for a boycott of the May 20 competition attracted far more fans.

A New York-based Web site called RevolutionMuslim.com to warn creators of the animated series that "what they are doing is stupid, and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh," a Dutch filmmaker who was murdured in 2004 after producing a film exploring violence against women in some Islamic societies.

Norris herself quickly distanced herself from the controversy, saying she had not meant to offend Islam. She might have escaped further fury, but the damage had been done in Pakistan.

There were massive demonstrations on the streets. Pakistani protesters shouted "Death to Facebook" and "Death to America," and burned U.S. flags to vent growing anger over online depictions of the prophet that they view as sacrilegious.

An Islamic lawyers' body went to court arguing that the contest essentially equaled blasphemy and won an injunction against the social-networking site.  The authorities not only fell in line promptly, but went on to ban YouTube too over "sacrilegious" content.

Pakistan has said it would consider restoring Facebook and other sites featuring offending content if the content was removed. While the country's telecommunications regulator said Thursday that the YouTube ban had been lifted following the removal of "blasphemous" footage, a YouTube spokeswoman said the video site is still being blocked there, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Islam strictly prohibits the depiction of any prophet as blasphemous and Muslims all over the world staged angry protests over the publication of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers in 2006.

Source: Medindia

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